Tag Archives: Georgia Churches

Live Oak Missionary Baptist Church, Ailey

This congregation was founded on 19 May 1891. It’s located adjacent to Ailey’s historic Rosenwald School and has been an integral part of the local African-American community throughout its history.

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Filed under --MONTGOMERY COUNTY GA--, Ailey GA

Midway C.M.E. Church, 1897, Thomasville

My friend, the photographer Mandy Green Yates, has found and documented numerous forgotten places in South Georgia in recent years but when she found this church, she decided to get involved with saving part of its history. At first, she was fascinated by the structure but soon realized the forlorn cemetery was even more important. While photographing the property, she met Aundre Walker, who has connections to the congregation and has been working to clean up the property and the cemetery with no outside help for at least three years. Mandy put her principles to practice and has been helping with the cleanup ever since. She created a Facebook page to schedule volunteers, as well as a GoFundMe page for donations. And apparently, the project is moving along quite successfully, with lots of volunteers and progress being made. I am amazed at what she and Mr. Walker have been able to accomplish.

The congregation was established by recently emancipated freedmen just after the Civil War and became associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal sect in the early 1870s. Like many white churches, it got its start in a brush arbor or “hush arbor” in the parlance of African-Americans of the time. This indicated a private place for worship, away from whites who often monitored their activities. It also served the community as a school for a time.

The church itself is typical of the construction of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The congregation officially disbanded about 15 years ago and many members joined nearby churches.

As is evident in this image, the steeple has long ago been compromised by the loss of its roof and has begun to collapse.

Though the cemetery remains the primary focus, it would be nice if the church could be saved, as well. Unfortunately, the area it is located in is undergoing rapid urbanization.

When I looked around the cemetery, I could only imagine the sadness and determination Aundre Walker felt when he decided to begin the reclamation. The grounds are quite large and looked nothing like this three years ago. It would have looked more like a forest than a graveyard.

Doing all of this work by hand has been a labor of love and a means of respecting the lives of those who would have otherwise been forgotten had he not taken on this project. I’m sure he is grateful for the new attention that Mandy Green Yates has brought to the work, though neither of these people is doing it for praise or recognition. In my opinion, they deserve it.

Most of the graves weren’t previously documented, but Mandy enlisted help from our friend Cynthia Jennings, who added the known burials to Findagrave.

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Bold Springs United Methodist Church, 1874, Grady County

Bold Springs has been called the “Mother of Methodism in Grady County”. The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church notes: Founded in 1863 by Reverend Robert B. McCord from Walton County, Georgia, Bold Springs United Methodist Church was born in Thomas County, though it is in Grady County as of 2017. “He brought his family, a few slaves, and a love for his church,” reported his youngest son who passed the story down to a grandson. Both the son and the grandson, J. D. McCord, became ministers.

The eldest McCord quickly settled in and looked for a site to build a church. He found a good spring on J. T. Drew’s property about two miles east of the McCord’s home and the Drews deeded four acres to the church. Sometime later, the church built a parsonage on fifty acres deeded by Mr. McCord to the church and the first minister, Rev. P. C. Harris, moved in.

In the 1930s, Miss Bessie Miller urged the church to build a community house. The Woman’s Society of Christian Service raised the money to complete the building and porches.

Once boasting as many as 400 members, the congregation is considerably smaller today, but remains active.

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Filed under --GRADY COUNTY GA--

Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, Brooks County

Situated on a large plantation among thousands of acres of managed Longleaf Pine near Pavo, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church is among the oldest congregations in this section of Georgia, constituted on 2 September 1826. Elders Benjamin Manning, Matthew Albritton, Henry Melton, and Deacon William A. Knight were the original Presbytery. Charter members were Melus and Sarah Thigpen, Archibald and Luander Strickland, and Henry C. and Sarah Tucker. Thigpen served as the supply pastor until 1828, when the Reverend Matthew Albritton was called to the charge of Bethel.

Mitchell Brice, Jr. [8 September 1896-10 October 1899]

I am unsure as to the date of construction, but the church is of a vernacular style widespread in Georgia in the late 19th century. The church was unpainted at least as late as 1968. The grounds are beautifully maintained and an historic cemetery is adjacent to the church, serving as the final resting place of many area pioneers.

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Filed under --BROOKS COUNTY GA--

Mother Easter Baptist Church, Circa 1906, Moultrie

According to a synopsis published on their website, Mother Easter Baptist Church was founded in 1894 by Rev. James O. Kelley, Alex Deberry, C.W. Hall, Sim Baker, Will Peterson and R.W. Ramsey. The original site was on a 1875 foot lot located in Northeast Moultrie near the Tifton-Thomasville, Georgia Railroad Company.

The church is named in honor of the woman(Mother Easter) who gave the founders permission, before the original site was built, to hold services in her home. Today information about Mother Easter is limited; however, it is believed that she is the same Easter Smith on the 1900 population census for Colquitt County whom records corroborate was a sixty-five year old widow who owned her own home and worked as a domestic in the home of Daniel Horne.

Rev. James O. Kelley was the first pastor of the church. He was a dynamic minister and worked diligently to build his congregation. In 1898, Rev. Kelley resigned and George H. Hunter became the second pastor. In 1903 there was a fire and a new church was built on Third Street and services were held on first and third Sundays.

On January 25,1905 the new church and the pastor’s home was destroyed by a fire. On March 17, 1906, conference convened and the members decided to construct a new church. On March 22, 1906, the property on the corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street Northwest, where the historic church now stands, was purchased from Issac M.D. Turner.

A new church as completed in 1985 and remains in use today.

I’m grateful to Mandy Green Yates for making me aware of this wonderful structure.

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Filed under --COLQUITT COUNTY GA--, Moultrie GA

Pierce Chapel A.M.E. Church, White Plains

This historic congregation is located in White Plains.

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Filed under --GREENE COUNTY GA--, White Plains GA

Sturgeon Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Ben Hill County

Sturgeon Creek is among the oldest congregations in Ben Hill County, organized in 1885. It was formally constituted in 1888 on land donated by area pioneer Jacob Dorminey (25 October 1837-20 November 1910) and his wife Susan Hunter Dorminey. It remains one of the most beautiful churches and churchyards in the county.

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--

Mount Cavalry Baptist Church & Cemetery, Ben Hill County

Mount Cavalry Baptist Church is an historic African-American congregation in Ben Hill County and has an equally historic cemetery. Many members of this venerable church served our nation in the armed services, with veterans of both world wars, Korea, and Vietnam among them.

The following photographs from the cemetery are presented in no particular order.

Henry William Fair (13 February 1861-16 July 1958) Headstone. Mr. Fair, a Mason, was memorialized with a headstone, and a footstone in the shape of a cross. There are several other vernacular monuments in the cemetery, as well.
H. W. Fair (13 February 1861-16 July 1958)
Unknown
Cornetta Fair (11 April 1894-1 April 1970)
A. Mardella Dixon (12 January 1881-15 February 1926)
Melcena Hill (10 October 1897-8 July 1922)
Mandy Andrews (1832/1833-20 April 1918)
Mrs. Jimmie Lee Hunter Matthews (24 August 1926-4 April 1991)

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--

Bickley Chapel, Camden County

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Filed under --CAMDEN COUNTY GA--

Rising Daughter Missionary Baptist Church, Spring Bluff

Rising Daughter Missionary Baptist Church is an historic congregation, but other than its association with a tragic unsolved murder case, I haven’t been able to locate any of its history. It’s one of several important early Black churches near the Satilla River in Camden County.I determined it’s an old congregation due to the historic cemetery.

Though the congregation has not allowed itself to be defined by a well-known tragedy, and has thrived in fact, Rising Daughter has been known to the outside world for the events of 11 March 1985. At a missionary meeting on that date, a white man interrupted the proceedings and senselessly shot and killed Deacon Harold Swain and his wife Thelma inside the church, with no apparent motive. Witnesses noted that the intruder pointed to Harold Swain and specifically asked to speak to him. As Mr. Swain walked toward the entryway to speak to man, his wife followed. She was shot once and Mr. Swain was shot four times. The only real evidence was a pair of glasses left by the shooter at the scene, and a composite sketch made by descriptions from some of the ladies who were in the church for the meeting. No one was arrested for nearly 15 years.

A new investigator came on the scene in 1998 and his focus turned to Dennis Perry, who was arrested and ultimately convicted of the crime in 2000, an election year. Perry had been an early suspect, based on an identification made from the composite sketch and the presumably false testimony of a woman (now deceased) who collected a reward, unbeknownst to jurors at the time. Fast forward to 2020, and Dennis Perry has been exonerated, thanks to the work of the Georgia Innocence Project and irrefutable DNA evidence. Today, he is a free man.

A possible DNA match is being investigated by those who have reopened the case and hopefully justice will finally be done, most importantly for the loved ones of the Swain family.

Rising Daughter Cemetery

Rising Daughter Cemetery has quite a few important vernacular monuments, including two of the Madonna monuments detailed here. A few random examples are documented below.

Butler Baker (23 March 1906-11 December 1970)
David Scott (22 March 1895-15 August 1958)
Bertha Ann Hampton (20 May 1952-17 September 1952). The headstones of the two Hampton children feature a cross made from readily available bathroom tile. A nice touch is the pink tile for the daughter and the blue tile for the son.
Michael E. Hampton (5 July 1952-18 July 1958)
Sylvia Scott (6 January 1860-27 March 1938)
Ester Flagg (9 December 1915-1 July 1943). The name on the headstone is “Easter”.

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Filed under --CAMDEN COUNTY GA--, Spring Bluff GA